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Orange County MLS – What is the Orange County MLS?

What is the Orange County MLS and how can I list my property on the MLS for a flat fee? How do I list my home For Sale By Owner in Orange County, NY?

The Orange County MLS in New York is the Hudson Gateway MLS, which is the primary Multiple Listing Service in the Hudson Valley and is operated and wholly owned by the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors.

Orange, Putnam, Rockland and Westchester Counties are primary jurisdictions for the Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service, otherwise known as the HGMLS. Almost every listing in these four counties will be listed on the HGMLS. In fact, the HGMLS requires MLS participants to upload every listing located in their core jurisdictions of Orange, Putnam, Rockland and Westchester Counties. Therefore, it’s important to realize that there is not a separate, independent Orange County MLS in existence.*

*Going forward, when we mention the Orange County MLS in New York, please understand that it is synonymous with the HGMLS.

The Orange County MLS in New York is the Hudson Gateway MLS, which is the primary Multiple Listing Service in the Hudson Valley and is operated and wholly owned by the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors. Orange, Putnam, Rockland and Westchester Counties are primary jurisdictions for the Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service, otherwise known as the HGMLS.

Almost every listing in these four counties will be listed on the HGMLS. In fact, the HGMLS requires MLS participants to upload every listing located in their core jurisdictions of Orange, Putnam, Rockland and Westchester Counties. Therefore, it’s important to realize that there is not a separate, independent Orange County MLS in existence.*

*Going forward, when we mention the Orange County MLS in New York, please understand that it is synonymous with the HGMLS.

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What kind of listings does the Orange County MLS in NY accept?

The Orange County MLS only accepts Exclusive Right to Sell or Exclusive Agency Listing Agreements. Open listings or listings without a written agreement are definitely not allowed. Although the HGMLS offers a template Exclusive Right to Sell Listing Agreement, Realtors are free to use an agreement of their own choosing. The staff at the HGMLS simply want to ensure that Realtors actually have a right to list a property and that they are offering some form of compensation to fellow Realtors.

Can I sell my home through a flat fee listing on the Orange County MLS in NY?

Yes, it’s entirely possible to list your home on the Orange County MLS for a flat fee. HGAR is very professional in never discussing commission rates with members and in re-iterating that there is no standard commission rate or a specific commission rate that owners must pay.

With that said, you do need to offer some form of commission for your listing to be entered into the MLS, even if it is a very small amount.

Interestingly enough, the HGMLS has three required fields for commission information: Seller/Sub Agent Comp, Buyer Agent Comp and Broker Agent Comp. Fortunately, listing agents are only required to put in a non zero figure in at least one of the fields. So traditionally, most listing agents only put an offer of commission to buyers’ agents in “Buyer Agent Comp” and put zeroes in the other two fields.

The ramifications of this are pretty important. This means that there is no way for other agents to determine what a listing agent is being paid. Even though a listing agreement must be uploaded, the document is set to private and only able to be viewed by the HGMLS staff.

Here are a few of the more arcane listing details required by the HGMLS and what they mean:

HERS Index Score – this is a measure of how energy efficient and “green” a home is.

PUD – planned unit development.

Here are some modifications and exclusions that listing agents can check off. This is only visible to other agents:

M1 Buyer Exclusions – certain buyer names are excluded per the request of the seller and specified in the listing agreement.

M2 Agent Exclusions – the owner doesn’t want certain agents or firms to show their property and these names are specified in the listing agreement.

M3 IAW Compensation If and When – a very important if and when clause which clarifies that the seller will not pay commission until the property closes. This is important because many New York listing agreements simply state that a commission is due when a ready, willing and able buyer is found.

M4 Commission Modification – if the listing agreement states that the commission owed varies based on the selling price.

M6 Disclosure of Ownership Interest – if the listing agent has an ownership interest in the listed property. This may apply to Realtors selling their own home.

M7 Insufficiency of Funds – a disclosure that the seller may not have the funds to pay a commission because they’re in poor financial health. This may result in buyers’ agents steering their clients away from a listing that has this checked.

M8 Short Sale Notification – listing agents should disclose to other HGMLS members that a property is a short sale, even if the owner does not want it to be advertised as such on public websites.

Note: For property taxes, the HGMLS requires that you list the full property tax amount without the benefit of the seller’s specific tax abatements. This makes sense because buyers will want to know what the maximum they’ll be liable for in case they can’t get the same tax abatements as the seller.

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What kind of fines can the Orange County MLS impose on New York Realtors?

The Orange County MLS imposes some hefty fines on its participants if certain rules are not followed. These fines are automatic in some cases. For example, listing agreements must be uploaded within 24 hours of “all necessary signatures being obtained,” or subject to an automatic fine. Weekends and holidays do not matter, Realtors literally have 24 hours to upload the listing agreement after they’ve posted an exclusive sale listing!

Furthermore, at least one photograph must be uploaded onto a listing within 72 hours. You can upload up to 30 photographs onto a HGMLS listing, but they require at least one photo or the listing Realtor will be fined.

Violation fines begin at $25 for missing photos, and up to $5,000 for other violations. The Orange County MLS actually has a system that scans all listings automatically and daily to see if any information doesn’t look right and for inappropriate language. Unfortunately, it’s very easy and common for Realtors to tattle on each other to the HGMLS staff. As a result, the HGMLS relies on Realtors to police each other’s listings.

The Board of Directors of the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors votes on and creates the following fine chart of HGMLS violations:

  • Failure to input a listing: $50 per day up to $5,000

  • Failure to submit photo: $25, $50 (after 7 days), $100 after 30 days

  • Failure to make a price or status change: $500

  • Failure to submit listing agreement: $15, $50 (7 days), $100 (30 days)

  • Failure to submit listing extension agreement: $15, $50 (7 days), $100 (30 days)

  • Use of another participant’s photos without authorization: $50 per day

Note: This chart is not meant to be comprehensive, but rather it is presented for illustrative purposes. HGMLS members have access to the comprehensive Rules and Regulations through their member portal.

Pro Tip: People in the HGMLS Compliance Department are friendly, so just reply to their email quickly saying that you will fix it, and then fix your violations within 24 to 48 hours. Being nice, replying ASAP and asking kindly whether they can waive the fine will go a long way!

Listing agents must be available to show a listing that’s in the MLS

If a listing is marked as active in the Orange County MLS, then the listing agent must oblige showing requests within reason. It’s understandable if the owner only wants showings to occur at certain hours, or if there are tenants there that make showings difficult, but listing brokers can be fined if they give the impression that they are not showing a property on purpose so they can find a direct buyer.

Essentially, if a listing is marked as active and the listing Realtor keeps refusing to show it after multiple requests by a buyer’s agent, the buyer’s agent can go ahead and report the listing broker to be fined!

If a listing broker is having trouble getting access to the property they’ve advertised, they can either fill out an Owner’s Instruction to Discontinue Showings form or just list the property as Temporarily Off Market.

Orange County MLS Flat Fee Listing Service

If a listing is marked as active in the Orange County MLS, then the listing agent must oblige showing requests within reason. It’s understandable if the owner only wants showings to occur at certain hours, or if there are tenants there that make showings difficult, but listing brokers can be fined if they give the impression that they are not showing a property on purpose so they can find a direct buyer.

Orange County MLS Flat Fee Listing Service

Essentially, if a listing is marked as active and the listing Realtor keeps refusing to show it after multiple requests by a buyer’s agent, the buyer’s agent can go ahead and report the listing broker to be fined!

If a listing broker is having trouble getting access to the property they’ve advertised, they can either fill out an Owner’s Instruction to Discontinue Showings form or just list the property as Temporarily Off Market.

If a listing broker legitimately can’t get access to their own listing for a day or two, that’s acceptable. However, if the seller will be going on vacation for a week, then the listing’s Realtor should set the listing to Temporarily Off Market.

Pro Tip: Days on Market in the Orange County MLS and the HGMLS is counted starting from the day a listing is active to the day it is changed to contract status.

What’s not allowed on the Orange County MLS in New York

Self-promotional material or branding of any type is prohibited on HGMLS listings. That means the listing description, photos or virtual tours cannot have any phone numbers, email addresses, names, websites or logos of any type. Even open house information is now allowed in the property description of HGMLS listings.

The fine for putting self-promotional material or branding on a HGMLS listing is $500 for the first violation, and up to $5,000.

Fines for copyright violations in the HGMLS

When listing photographs are uploaded into the Orange County MLS, the copyright for the photographs automatically go to the listing Realtor’s brokerage. The brokerage owns any photographs that have been listed by its agents.

Therefore, owners must be very careful about giving property photographs to their listing broker to use. Have you ever given these same photos to another agent to use? If so, then it’s very likely that you can’t use them if they’ve already been uploaded before into the HGMLS!

Realtors can be fined $50 a day for the use of another HGMLS participant’s photographs without express written consent. If you’ve purchased a Hudson Gateway flat fee MLS listing that means this and any other fines levied by the HGMLS will be passed directly onto you! Please take this lesson to heart and do not give our partner brokers photographs which you do not solely have ownership rights to.

Pro Tip: Professional photographs are the smallest yet most effective investment you can make in your home sale. For the small sum of a few hundred dollars, you’ll have digitally re-touched photographs taken by a professional who will show your home off in its best light. Please check out our professional photography packages before you decide to list your home!

Disclosure: Hauseit and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction.

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